SPRING VALLEY — Jacob Bleess didn't need long to figure out he had to run the high side of the track if he was going to have success.
More than once, though, the young USRA Modified driver from Chatfield pushed the limits of just how high he could take his No. 21 car up the high side Saturday night at Deer Creek Speedway.
"A couple times I almost parked it out on the outfield there," Bleess said.
That's what happens when three of the best drivers in the top division at Deer Creek go door-to-door in a 25-lap race that went without a stoppage for the final 23 laps. In the end, Bleess' run to the extreme high side of the 3/8-mile oval paid off as he held off fellow Chatfield native Lucas Schott and multi-time track champion Brandon Davis in lapped traffic to earn the feature victory on Saturday on Pink-Out Night.
Feature-winning drivers did pushups following their races to raise money for Join The Journey, a non-profit organization that supports breast cancer patients. Local sponsors pledged $20 per pushup; winning drivers totaled 149 pushups, raising $2,980. Bleess did 21 pushups in Victory Lane.
It's the second win of the season for Bleess at Deer Creek in as many starts. Davis finished second and Schott placed third.
"Getting through lapped traffic is always tough," Bleess said. "I was talking to Lucas before (the race) and said 'whoever can get through lapped traffic is probably going to win the race' and we got through it."
It wasn't easy, though. Bleess, who started on the pole, led the first 13 laps, but wasn't able to pull away, as Schott and Davis stayed right on his tail. As Bleess ran the high side, Schott took the opposite approach and went to the low groove, building momentum to pass Bleess on lap 14.
Schott held the lead until four laps remained, when the leaders were three-wide at the line while battling lapped traffic. Bleess inched ahead on the next lap, then slowly put some distance between himself and Schott and Davis. Bleess beat Davis to the line by just less than a second, with Schott another eight-hundredths of a second back.
"It was a fun race, we got out front right away," Bleess said. "I knew the top would come in eventually, it was just a little crummy. Luke got by me on the bottom and I just slowly started working up, and the cushion was good enough there that I could bounce off it, get a good run."
• Hayfield's Zach Elward also had to hold off a tough contender to win the Wissota Street Stocks feature. Elward started eighth, grabbed the lead after a restart on lap five and led the rest of the way. He beat Danny Richards to the checkers by less than a second after the two battled side by side for the final five laps. The win is Elward's second this year at Deer Creek.
• Jim Chisholm continued his dominant run at Deer Creek, winning the USRA B-Modifieds feature for the third time in as many starts this summer. Chisholm's seventh win of 2020 also marked at least his fifth in a row at Deer Creek, as he swept the season-ending Fall Jamboree last year. Chisholm started on the pole Saturday and led all 18 laps.
• Defending track champion Mitch Weiss won a Wissota Midwest Modifieds feature for the second time in three starts this season at Deer Creek. Weiss said he replaced all four tires before the feature. "This car was a rocket ship tonight," he said in Victory Lane. "I love this track ... that's our goal, to defend that championship."
• Dan Nissalke of Winona won the Wissota Super Stocks feature. Nissalke used a slide job in Turn 4 to pass Schatney Sanders on lap 10 of the 20-lap race and pull away for the win, beating runner-up Sanders to the checkers by 1.851 seconds.
Races resume at Deer Creek on Saturday, with the annual post-race fireworks show. The track's biggest race of the season is set for July 9, when the Lucas Oil Late Model Series is set to make its debut at Deer Creek for the Gopher 50.
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Feature (top 5): 1. Jacob Bleess (Chatfield); 2. Brandon Davis (Hayfield); 3. Lucas Schott (Chatfield); 4. Dustin Sorensen (Rochester): 5. Cory Crapser (Chippewa Falls, Wis.).
Heat winners: Schott; Sorensen; Davis; Alex Williamson (Rushford).
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature (top 5): 1. Dan Nissalke (Winona); 2. Schatney Sanders (Blooming Prairie); 3. Neil Eckhart (Rochester); 4. Dylan Kromschroeder (Cambridge); 5. Ryan Wiome (Center City).
Heat winners: Sanders, Brandon Duellman (Winona).
WISSOTA STREET STOCKS
Feature (top 5): 1. Zach Elward (Hayfield); 2. Danny Richards (Mondovi, Wis.); 3. Braden Brauer (Eyota); 4. Kory Adams (Stacyville, Iowa); 5. Kyle Genett (Auburndale, Wis.).
Heat winners: Richards, Elward, Adams.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature (top 5): 1. Mitch Weiss (Scandia); 2. Kylie Kath (Claremont); 3. Ryan Goergen (Stacyville, Iowa); 4. Dylan Goettl (Chippewa Falls, Wis.); 5. Kobie Kath (Owatonna).
Heat winners: Don Schaefer (Eyota); Goettl.
Feature (top 5): 1. Jim Chisholm (Osage, Iowa); 2. Dustin Kruse (Brandon, S.D.); 3. Brandon Hare (Elma, Iowa); 4. Joe Chisholm (Osage); 5. Eric Thill (Rochester).
Heat winners: Garitt Wytaske (Austin); Kruse; Colby Mann (Caledonia); Noah Grinstead (Austin).